FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, August 31, 2023
BEHIND THE WHEEL
ACURA CHIEF ENGINEER JAMES ROBINSON CHAMPIONS NSX ON PIKES PEAK – AMERICA’S MOUNTAIN
Colorado Springs, CO – Since the earliest days of auto racing on Pikes Peak, the grueling mountain course has served as a proving ground for car makers to push the limits of what is possible. Honda/Acura has embraced the opportunity to do just that with their employee-centered race team. HART (Honda of America Race Team) is a volunteer based team that allows Honda associates to chase their passions in racing while learning valuable skills used daily in their roles at Honda.
James Robinson of Raymond, Ohio has been chasing that passion on Pikes Peak – America’s Mountain since 2011. “I competed in a bone stock Honda Fit, with my co-driver, Jared Vanderhoof,” Robinson recalled. “I got an opportunity to showcase the B-Spec Honda Fit in 2011, and I jumped at the chance to drive on the mountain. It was definitely a slow first run up the mountain, but very exciting and I was hooked!” His finish time that first year was 15:46.609 in the Exhibition division.
Switch to NSX
In 2012 Robinson switched to a 1991 NSX and has competed in varying iterations of that model since, competing in both the Pikes Peak Open and Time Attack 1 divisions.
No Stranger to Weather
Robinson’s race week experience at the 2017 Race to the Clouds offered just about every kind of weather possible on the mountain.+
Over the course of his 13-year racing career on Pikes Peak, Robinson has notched 5 podium finishes, and set two records for the fastest hybrid-fueled vehicle. His 2018 hybrid record of 10:02.448 was bested in 2020 when he clocked his best time ever of 10:01.913.
Milestone Highs and Lows
Robinson was fortunate to take part in the heralded 100th Anniversary of the iconic race in 2016. The event celebrated 100 years since Colorado Springs businessman and entrepreneur, Spencer Penrose first invited a select group of racers to challenge the 12.42 mile course.
His experience just six years later as he prepared for the 100th Running was a different story. After a crash during an early morning practice session, Robinson would be forced to watch the action from the sidelines instead of from behind the wheel in 2022.
2023 In Review
Robinson talked about racing the NSX this year, sharing, “It’s very interesting as a race car because it’s essentially a production NSX. We’ve removed weight and added some aero elements, but the frame, suspension, shocks / dampers, brakes and hybrid system are all straight from a road-going Acura NSX. On the powertrain side, we’ve added larger turbos, but we’ve not modified the fueling system or intake system and we use these larger turbos to help us maintain factory power output at altitude. The exhaust is the biggest change we’ve made, its twin 4″ straight pipes off the turbos which makes the car a bit louder than a stock NSX!”
“The NSX Type-S performed great this year, I was very thankful to be given the opportunity to drive the HART team car in Time Attack 1. For us, it was an opportunity to test out our new active aerodynamics system that our HART team developed. It worked really well, and we were able to gather a lot of good data.”
One More Podium
Tough competition in 2023 saw Robinson finish in third place behind Time Attack 1 champion David Donohue, and second place finisher, Jeff Zwart.
GET TO KNOW JAMES ROBINSON
Three Things For Fans To Know:
“I am one of the Chief Engineers in the Powertrain Development division where I have the opportunity to support the creation of North American powertrains for Honda and Acura vehicles.”
“I’m incredibly good at eating, in fact, I’m probably eating something right now.”
“Every year we’ve found ways to get weight out of our Acura race vehicles…and every year I’ve gotten heavier!”
Pikes Peak Heroes: “Rod Millen, Monster Tajima and Rick Knoop”
Favorite Section: “The bottom section because it is so fast.”
Favorite Corner: “Ragged Edge”
Most Challenging: “The upper section requires a lot of commitment to keep the speed up – especially the section above Boulder Park. Also, the braking coming into Cog Cut. It almost got me in 2017!”
How did you come up with #902? “It’s my wedding anniversary with my wonderful wife, Shana, September 2nd.”
What makes Pikes Peak different than racing anywhere else? “The view!”
Best advice you received: “Respect the mountain and know your limits.”
Favorite Track: “Easy – the Concord Pond stage at the New England Forest Rally.”
Photos by: Larry Chen, Charles Zhao, Leif Bergerson, Jason Zindrosky, Luis Garcia
ABOUT THE PIKES PEAK INTERNATIONAL HILL CLIMB
First staged in 1916, the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is the second oldest race in America. The invitation-only event, often referred to as The Race to the Clouds is held annually on the last Sunday of June on Pikes Peak – America’s Mountain, near Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA. The famous 12.42-mile (20 km) course consists of 156 turns, boasts an elevation gain of 4,725 feet (1,440 m), and reaches a finish line at 14,115 feet (4,302 m) above sea level. The PPIHC’s six race divisions feature a wide variety of vehicles – from production-based Time Attack challengers to purpose-built Open Wheel racers and state-of-the-art Unlimited vehicles. The current race record was set in 2018 by Romain Dumas and Volkswagen in the all-electric I.D. R Pikes Peak – 07:57.148.